Golden Ratio, Golden Bread

Posted by: Ian Beyer  :  Category: Uncategorized

In his book Ratio, Michael Ruhlman explains the ratios behind many basic elements of cuisine. When detailing bread, he explains that bread consists of a flour:liquid ratio of 5:3 (1.66). (Ruhlman also explains that cooking ratios are always done by weight.) This is a good rule of thumb that is pretty easy to remember. After some experimenting, I’ve found that I actually get better results if my flour:liquid ratio is closer to the golden ratio¬†(1.618). This is not surprising, as this ratio is found throughout nature.

Here’s how it breaks down, to make a single loaf around 1.5 lb:

1 lb flour (any combination of bread flour, whole wheat, rye, you name it. At least half should be a good high-gluten flour)

7 oz liquid (can be milk, water, whey, beer, or any combination thereof. Get creative and experiment here. )

1 beaten egg (just under 2 oz.)

1 oz. fat (oil, butter, etc – solid fats should be very soft or melted)

For each 1.5 lb loaf, add the following, dissolved in the liquid which has been heated to around 40 degrees C (100 degrees F). Do this before adding the egg and the fat.

1/2 tablespoon yeast

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sweetener (honey, sugar, molasses – do not use zero-calorie sweeteners, this is to feed the yeast, not you)

Knead the whole thing for about 10-15 minutes, rise until doubled, punch down, shape, rise again,  bake for half an hour at 350F.